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Author Topic: Calming the PD UPDATE: Security Meeting!  (Read 5093 times)
TheSilverhead
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« on: January 22, 2014, 01:15:37 PM »

So, short back story. This last fall was my first semester here at SDSM&T. I joined the HvZ group, Gamers For Service. They put on 2-3 events per semester to raise money for charity. I helped plan the missions for HvZ, and enjoyed the hell out of being Dr. Whom, the evil reverse centaur that was trying to take over two universes (don't ask. It involved a horse mask, a lab coat, and a flubber capacitator.) Anyway, as it turns out, Campus Security, the Police, and non-players did NOT enjoy the game.

We had several incidents (No shootings!) that arose from miscommunication. One kid was walking home over a hill, with his (Stock colors) Nerf blaster, and a couple of uninformed students called Campus Security and the local police to report a shooter. Ugh. It escalated into a temporary campus lock-down and tales of a suicide.

Someone (not a  player) set off a burglar alarm, and Security blamed us. Some players went into the no-play zone, the football field area, during a sporting event, and we got complaints from parents.

PD and Security asked us if we could play without blasters, and only in broad daylight. We managed to keep the foam flingers and spook factor, but it took a lot of smooth talking.

Fast forward. This spring I was elected President of GFS. I'm in charge of keeping those 'incidents' from happening again. I'd like to tap into your collective experience on how to keep our game running, at night, with Nerf blasters, and keep our players from getting REALLY dead.

Here's the e-mail I sent to our Student Org advisor-
"Hello!

I have recently been elected President of Gamers For Service. I'll be gradually taking over the correspondence and Campus notifications. Trent has mentioned previously discussing the safety and possible problematic situations that could arise from some of our events, including (and especially) Humans vs. Zombies. I've read some of these discussions, and had a few ideas. I would like to make the next event incident-free, and alleviate the concerns of Campus Security, the Rapid City police, and other non-players. If you have a moment, I'd like to run a few suggestions and ideas by you- let me know if they would help in the possible trouble spots.

First, identification of non-threats/players/non-players. We would supply each player with a brightly-colored bandana instead of allowing each player to purchase their own, as some players came with dark black/blue or camouflage bandanas that were difficult to distinguish from clothing. This would allow any non-player, law enforcement included, to easily identify non-threats. I have read that several other campuses that run HvZ have had their security request that certain colors not be used for various reasons. Orange, for example, was ruled out because 'it is the colors hunters wear, and they don't want to send the wrong message.' Red and teal were decided against for gang activity in the areas using these colors. If we were to implement supplied bandanas, I would like to know well before ordering if you, or Campus Security, have any caveats about color. Supplying bandanas would decrease the amount of money we could give to charity, of course, unless we got SOAP funding.

Secondly, blaster identification. I helped run the game last semester, and noticed several painted blasters, lacking the orange tip. Although these were fixed before allowing the players to continue, it usually involved scraping paint off. We will keep orange tape on hand to mark all blasters/blowguns as federally required. Also, 'melee' weapons should not have appeared at all in last semester's game, and that rule will continue.

Thirdly, communication. I have thought about your question, 'What if a real threat arises on Campus?' Our only real method of communication with players is a voluntary game-update text/email, which very few players notice or sign up for. The other option is simply shouting, which is largely ineffective. However, all or nearly all students would receive the campus emergency notifications- if there was a threat on-campus during HvZ, could the text include the strong precaution that players cease, return to dorms, and stow all gear? We would postpone the game until several hours or a day after such an incident, or cancel the remainder of the event, depending on the severity, to keep anyone from being frightened into thinking that there was another shooter. Also, we could use a simple emergency signal, such as an air horn, to signal 'return to dorms immediately,' if that was acceptable to Campus Security. Also,  I would like to send out several all-student emails a week prior, a few days prior, and on the day of our events, to inform non-players of what will be going on, and the fact that players will have bandanas etc. I know that last semester, a student walking home caused the police to be called because of a 'shooter,' because the callers were not aware of the HvZ event.

Fourthly, play areas/rules. I know that parents etc. do not want players to be near sporting events on campus. If at all possible, we will avoid scheduling missions during the same time as a sporting event, however, these take lace so frequently during the fall as to be prohibitive. We could thicken our 'no-fly' zone to include the parking lot and road approaching the stadium.

Are there any other concerns that you can raise now, so that we can work on reasonable solutions over the coming months? If you would also ask Campus Security for their concerns and mention these proposed solutions, it would be most appreciated.

Thank you for your time,
Jordan Weaver
GFS President"

Note: We're getting a big bolt of orange cloth for player indication- only about $30 for ~400 'bandanas.'

So, practical safety solutions anyone? Thoughts on my solutions so far?
Thank you for sticking it out through this wall of text!


« Last Edit: January 29, 2014, 05:04:21 PM by TheSilverhead » Logged

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Benzene


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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2014, 02:01:01 AM »

As a Canadian, I had no clue school shootings were such a big deal o_O
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"The Kneepads Guy"
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Catastrophe
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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2014, 02:11:02 AM »

It looks like you're off to a great start with trying to improve things. Here's a couple of suggestions:

Have you tried personally meeting with your Campus Security and Police Department? What's done is done at this point, but since you're new to taking over the group, setting up meetings (at least with Campus Security) to explain what will be happening and where would probably be a good thing. Letting the police department know those same details would be a good thing too (although I'd suggest you get advice from the Campus Security on what the PD should know, as they have way more to worry about besides one college campus). If you do set up a meeting, be professional about it and be as clear and concise as possible. (I'm assuming Safety Waivers and "I have read, understand and agree to comply with the rules of the game" documents are already in place. If not, add them ASAP.)

For bandanas (whether you invest in them or not), just make it a permanent rule that they must be a bright color and be one of the following: color one, color two, etc. You have funding already established it looks like, so just keep a small supply of the bandanas on hand for students to purchase from the group (Hobby Lobby sells them for $1 a piece in just about every bright color you can think of). No profit gained, no excuse from players to not have those colors (although if you can get a giant thing of fabric and make that work, more power to you). If you haven't ordered the color for the bandana, I'd suggest a bright yellow or neon green (or hot pink...no? you sure? alright...).

Do you currently have REQUIRED rules meetings? I believe Truman is pretty much mandatory on "If you want to play, you attend this meeting." Lindenwood is similar, but as we always had a smaller group, I had no problem running a 5 minute "Do this. Do this. Don't do this. Don't do this. And use common sense in all other situations." here and there for those that couldn't (or wouldn't) attend rules meetings. Make it clear to your players that if they cause problems or are otherwise disruptive while playing the game, they will be removed. I always ran a "You get one warning. Another incident, and that's it." system and never had any issues.

For missions, is there any reason you can't run them at the same time every day/night? Obviously you're playing during the rest of the time, but the giant groups of students running around can be cause for more alarm and concern during missions. Having a set time helps make it more routine. Also, regardless if you make them a set time or not, make sure the Campus Security (and if they think it'd be a good idea, the PD) know exactly where the missions will be taking place, where the big objectives are, etc. That way, if they get a call about "A bunch of students are outside my dorm and they look like they have guns" and they see that its during the time of the mission and one of the objectives is right around that area, they'll know it is probably the HvZ game happening and be a little more cautious about activating a Campus Lockdown.

As far as blasters, if it will help keep your game going, just make a rule: Stock colors only. Yes, those that have painted their blasters will be disappointed, but no painted blasters > no HvZ game at all. Or make a rule that a certain % must be Orange (and not just the tip), although the Elite blasters probably won't hit that % anyways.
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TheSilverhead
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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2014, 03:31:56 AM »

Yeah, I'm going to meet them in person- the e-mails were just to prep for the meeting and make it more productive. We do have waivers to sign for each player for safety/rules.
We already have a rule about only bright bandanas, but many people simply ignore that. It's hard to police 200 people, so provided, uniform cloth strips would help with the PD's fears of threat identification.

Yes, there is a required rules-briefing with power point before the game begins, and reminders before each mission for both Zeds and Humans.
But, many players ignore those rules entirely. We have a lot of players that are supposed to be 'normal' players, but moderate when necessary. I think that system is broken- the mods just claim invulnerability (NOT allowed). The most complaints we had were about rule clarification (people don't show up to our meeting explaining the rules? How's that OUR fault?) and mods not being good mods. But, that's not on the topic of safety.

We run them at the same time, except on weekends, when it is earlier to avoid sporting events. Security wanted the games at ~noon, with no blasters- tag only. How on earth is a human supposed to defend himself BY TAGGING A ZED? Anywho.

Very few people actually paint the blasters- out of ~175 people, we had about 5-6 painted, and they were remedied. It's mostly to inform Security etc. that they WILL be able to identify us, rather than to make new rules for the group, and also to find a better method of enforcement.
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Jesse Abram
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« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2014, 12:57:10 PM »

Here's my suggestions based on my HvZ Moderating experience and current job as Chief of Security for a small college.  (Note: This is not legal advice, it is opinion only, I am not responsible for your use, misuse, or failure to use the following responses.  I realize that I should probably include this disclaimer because I am speaking from the position of a higher education professional.)



First, identification of non-threats/players/non-players. We would supply each player with a brightly-colored bandana instead of allowing each player to purchase their own, as some players came with dark black/blue or camouflage bandanas that were difficult to distinguish from clothing Contrasting bandanas should already be mandatory.  This would allow any non-player, law enforcement included, to easily identify non-threats. I have read that several other campuses that run HvZ have had their security request that certain colors not be used for various reasons. Orange, for example, was ruled out because 'it is the colors hunters wear, and they don't want to send the wrong message.' Red and teal were decided against for gang activity in the areas using these colors. If we were to implement supplied bandanas, I would like to know well before ordering if you, or Campus Security, have any caveats about color. Supplying bandanas would decrease the amount of money we could give to charity, of course, unless we got SOAP funding.   Suggest you "rent" the bandanas out.  They can give you a dollar and then at the end of the game they can bring the bandana back for a refund or keep the bandana.

Secondly, blaster identification. I helped run the game last semester, and noticed several painted blasters, lacking the orange tip.  That is deserving of an insta-ban and could be reported to the police, as removing/modifying the orange tip is illegal (to my knowledge).  Although these were fixed before allowing the players to continue, it usually involved scraping paint off. We will keep orange tape on hand to mark all blasters/blowguns as federally required. Also, 'melee' weapons should not have appeared at all in last semester's game, and that rule will continue.

Thirdly, communication. I have thought about your question, 'What if a real threat arises on Campus?' Our only real method of communication with players is a voluntary game-update text/email, which very few players notice or sign up for. HvZ Source give you an automatic mailing list, they have to put in an email to register.  A method to communicate with the players should be mandatory for everyone's safety.  The other option is simply shouting, which is largely ineffective. However, all or nearly all students would receive the campus emergency notifications- if there was a threat on-campus during HvZ, could the text include the strong precaution that players cease, return to dorms, and stow all gear?  Not feasible, would require the person sending the text to remember that the game is occuring, unlikely in a stressful situation.  I (as security chief) am in charge of my campus's Emergency Text Alert System and there is not enough space available in the message to include all that info.  Instead, you should instruct your players to immediately suspend play in the event of an emergency or emergency alert. You will then communicate to them when play can begin again, through the email system you are going to make mandatory.    We would postpone the game until several hours or a day after such an incident, or cancel the remainder of the event, depending on the severity, to keep anyone from being frightened into thinking that there was another shooter. Also, we could use a simple emergency signal, such as an air horn, to signal 'return to dorms immediately,' Unlikely to be an effective solution.  Sound is tricky, it's easy to miss even police sirens if the wind is wrong, and an air horn will not penetrate buildings. if that was acceptable to Campus Security. Also,  I would like to send out several all-student emails a week prior, a few days prior, and on the day of our events, to inform non-players of what will be going on, and the fact that players will have bandanas etc. I hope they agree to this, it's in everyone's best interests. I know that last semester, a student walking home caused the police to be called because of a 'shooter,' because the callers were not aware of the HvZ event.  

Fourthly, play areas/rules. I know that parents etc. do not want players to be near sporting events on campus. If at all possible, we will avoid scheduling missions during the same time as a sporting event, however, these take place so frequently during the fall as to be prohibitive. We could thicken our 'no-fly' zone to include the parking lot and road approaching the stadium.  Widening your no-fly zone is probably a good idea in order to reduce the contact you might have with non-campus civilians, i.e. parents, fans.  Impress upon your players that no action or inaction on their part should interfere with normal campus activities.



When speaking to admins, don't be the first to bring up past problems.  Simply lay our your safety procedures and let them judge.  Address their concerns as they bring them. up.



Edit: Looking over your other posts in this thread, I see that you have appropriate rules in place, now it's a matter of enforcing them.  A few bad apples will ruin your game, so I suggest you fix the Moderating issue.  Disrespect for Moderators translates very quickly into disrespect for the rules, and then I'd lay money that the first rule to be ignored will be your no-fly zone, which brings you into conflict with parents, who have way more clout than they should on universities, especially if they are rich alumni.

I wish there was a good way to have moderators play the game normally, but unless you can trust every moderator to be 100% fair about getting tagged there is no way it can happen.  Allowing modz to be NPC's is a good compromise, when designed correctly.

« Last Edit: January 23, 2014, 01:10:30 PM by Jesse Abram » Logged

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TheSilverhead
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« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2014, 05:58:41 PM »

Yes, contrasting bandanas are mandatory, but that is often ignored. We're giving them no excuses to NOT have one.
Renting the bandanas is a VERY good idea, thank you.
Those who painted their guns did not enter play before fixing them, and claimed ignorance of that law. I'm going to set up an inspection at the rules briefing to make sure there aren't more.
We require an e-mail for signup, and DO email each player with what's going on, cancel play, etc. The problem is, people don't check their student e-mails. Many people miss tuition payments or fail classes due to missing e-mails. It's an extremely bad system. We can text them, but not everyone has a phone with texting/takes it/hears it/signs up for the texting service. I think that e-mail, and pre-established 'what to do if there is a campus alert' protocols, in addition to our optional texting, will hit everyone we can. It isn't a very large campus, thankfully.

Thank you very much for your professional help in this. I'll speak with the other execs and try to come up with a better method of rule enforcement.
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Jesse Abram
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« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2014, 06:20:52 PM »

Rule enforcement is tricky, and depends a lot on the community as a whole.  Players should feel comfortable calling others out on Rule #1.  And there is a right way and a wrong way to do that. The wrong way involves whining or yelling. :-)  Some HvZ communities are a lucky, they started off with great leaders among the Modz and the players and the community continued to reflect that over time.  Others are less fortunate, a few bad apples were allowed to persist in the beginning and such things continue to be tolerated because they've always been there.  Change is hard, but I'm certain you can accomplish it.  You appear very dedicated, and I look forward to hearing about your progress.

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TheSilverhead
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« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2014, 05:04:05 PM »

Alright, just finished up our Risk Mitigation meeting with the director of student organizations, the chief of security, and the risk assessment officer. Your suggestions were very useful. The security chief says that he, personally, disagrees with the game, but will certainly allow us to continue it, with Nerf blasters, so long as we make as many staeps as we can to improve its safety.
Lest semester, a highschool used our football stadium- which we were not aware of- and some of the parents saw our players and raised hell to the security cheif, who was at the game. Oops.
Our solution plan, as advised by our security chief, is:
Get YELLOW vests, not orange/red/blue/green, and bandanas to identify players.
STOCK COLORS, not just orange tip. NO black blasters. Blaster inspection and chronographing before game. Autoban of all guns over ~120 fps or too realistic.
No play zones to include a thicker area, pushing play away from high traffic and uninformed witnesses. We may play only in a practice field area, or reschedule to avoid all athletic events.
Inform Campus Security, but NOT the local sheriff etc. Our security officer is also a certified policeman, and he recommends ot having the PD be 'lax' or not responding to a real threat because they assume the threat is not real.
Let security know exactly when and where HvZ is taking place, so they know how to respond.
Eliminate non-mission hour play. We have next-to-none as it is, so this won't hurt the meta-game.
Establish the following protocol. IF there is a threat or other reason why the game must stop, the usual Campus Alert text will go out to everyone. At the same time. myself or another high-up will be called by Security, detailing the threat and our proper response, whether that is dropping all gear and staying put, gather at a certain point, etc. We will relay that message to our players through text and e-mail, and call our mods to start spreading the word, AND fire off an air-horn (if Secuirty wants us to at the time) to inform players to check in with a mod/email.
Teach all players at our pre-mission briefing that they MUST comply with officers, if asked, they must drop their blaster without question and without turning around. We are 8 blocks from the Police station, and it is a somewhat active drug/gang town. THere are transient threats and plainclothes officers and detectives- just obey ordeers you hear.
Finally, our Chief of Security will re-enforce these points at our pre-mission briefing. Hearing the rules from an officer of the law should hammer them in better than we can.

Honestly, it isn't that bad. I went in thinking it was the end- or that it would become a game of tag. These are all ideas that floated around before, but were never implemented.
Well, thoughts from the rest of the community?

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Jesse Abram
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« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2014, 05:18:21 PM »

Vests, wow.  I hope that doesn't hurt you financially.

Do I read you right, they restricted you basically to playing during missions?  Do game goes on hiatus during the day?  That's too bad, but some HvZ is better than no HvZ.

If you have any blasters shooting over 120 fps that's just ridiculous.  I've used the "fire it into your own eye to check if it's safe and if you're not comfortable doing that you can't use it" rule.  I don't think you'll need to invest in a chronograph, but if the police want to provide one, that's cool.  Makes a nice little bragging point for people with high speed blasters.
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TheSilverhead
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« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2014, 05:53:16 PM »

We are getting SOAP funding- $500 to spend, most of it on safety equipment. Several other groups have vests already, we can borrow, but it will only be about $2 or $3 per vest at worst.
Yes, play is restricted to mission times. That's ~3 hours per day. We almost never play outside missions anyway- just not enough people.
The paintball club is growing to lend us an open wire chronograph for the night. No cost to us Wink
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